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Microsoft Exploits the Poor

Posted in Africa, America, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux at 8:16 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to no longer breathe free…”

Summary: Microsoft is dumping on poor people in South Africa while indoctrinating the unemployed citizens of the United States

COVERING Microsoft can become a little tedious when the same patterns of operation repeat themselves and require new explanations with new victim names. One branch of Microsoft tricks we typically just lump together with EDGI, which is Microsoft’s way of fighting against Free software in impoverished areas of the world or areas that simply migrate to GNU/Linux (Microsoft calls these “Linux infestations”). Robert Mullins, who runs the Microsoft-boosting IDG blog*, is pushing that same old party line. It’s not much of a blog by the way; it’s akin to Ina Fried’s pseudo-journalism, which is like this new 24/7 (well, daily at least) Microsoft PR. These so-called ‘journalists’ are to Microsoft what O’Reilly/Beck/Fox are to the Republican party.

“These so-called ‘journalists’ are to Microsoft what O’Reilly/Beck/Fox are to the Republican party.”Anyway, Mullins is promoting that fake “Microsoft for the poor” pitch while Microsoft is targeting areas where GNU/Linux and Free software do relatively well. Microsoft is using some dumping tactics as usual, but it relies a great deal on shameless spin.

Yes, the latest news is that Microsoft fakes an “investment” (where it usually means software that costs nothing to make copies of) in South Africa’s black community [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]. For those who are not aware, Microsoft has been sabotaging this nation’s migration to digital independence and this is not for the first time, either. They did this in South African schools for example.

The South African population is being victimised by yet another foreign invader (after it kicked out one major imperialist that we all know), but this time it’s a corporation. Microsoft uses similar tactics in the United States (a programme that we call “American EDGI”). This week we found an update about what Microsoft does in Massachusetts, pretending to help the disadvantaged while in fact just indoctrinating these people.

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. — A new state partnership with Microsoft will provide 26,000 vouchers for on-line technology training and testing accessed through 37 One Stop Career Centers including New Bedford and Wareham. The Elevate America program provides vouchers for free courses in Microsoft software programs to all Massachusetts residents except state employees and public workforce system employees.

There is also this new update about Salinas, which is affected by Schwarzenegger's sellout in California. Microsoft uses this state to acquire more customers whom both the state and Microsoft are brainwashing.
* In just a couple of months he has been defending Microsoft no matter the situation. He is also pushing and thus legitimising their predatory PR schemes.

South Africa

IRC Proceedings: April 26th, 2010

Posted in IRC Logs at 7:20 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Read the log

Enter the IRC channel now

Monsanto Investor Bill Gates Finds Way for Taxpayers to Fund His Patents (on Dangerous Life Forms)

Posted in Bill Gates, Intellectual Monopoly, Patents at 7:07 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Bill Gates in Poland - Monsanto added in

Summary: How the public gets robbed by Monsanto and its shareholders, who are trying to impose their risky seeds monopoly on poor populations

WE HAVE written quite relentlessly about what Bill Gates is doing with Monsanto under the umbrella of the Gates Foundation. To name some of last year’s posts on the subject, we have:

  1. With Microsoft Monopoly in Check, Bill Gates Proceeds to Creating More Monopolies
  2. Gates-Backed Company Accused of Monopoly Abuse and Investigated
  3. How the Gates Foundation Privatises Africa
  4. Reader’s Article: The Gates Foundation and Genetically-Modified Foods
  5. Monsanto: The Microsoft of Food
  6. Seeds of Doubt in Bill Gates Investments
  7. Gates Foundation Accused of Faking/Fabricating Data to Advance Political Goals
  8. More Dubious Practices from the Gates Foundation
  9. Video Transcript of Vandana Shiva on Insane Patents
  10. Explanation of What Bill Gates’ Patent Investments Do to Developing World
  11. Black Friday Film: What the Bill Gates-Backed Monsanto Does to Animals, Farmers, Food, and Patent Systems
  12. Gates Foundation Looking to Destroy Kenya with Intellectual Monopolies
  13. Young Napoleon Comes to Africa and Told Off
  14. Bill Gates Takes His GMO Patent Investments/Experiments to India
  15. Gates/Microsoft Tax Dodge and Agriculture Monopoly Revisited
  16. Beyond the ‘Public Relations’
  17. UK Intellectual Monopoly Office (UK-IPO) May be Breaking the Law
  18. “Boycott Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in China”
  19. The Gates Foundation Extends Control Over Communication with Oxfam Relationship
  20. Week of Monsanto

Last week we got a new example of the health damages claimed to have been caused by Monsanto’s genetically-modified soy. It is not the first such example and we covered more of this before.

Genetically Modified Soy Linked to Sterility, Infant Mortality in Hamsters


“This study was just routine,” said Russian biologist Alexey V. Surov, in what could end up as the understatement of this century. Surov and his colleagues set out to discover if Monsanto’s genetically modified (GM) soy, grown on 91% of US soybean fields, leads to problems in growth or reproduction. What he discovered may uproot a multi-billion dollar industry.

After feeding hamsters for two years over three generations, those on the GM diet, and especially the group on the maximum GM soy diet, showed devastating results. By the third generation, most GM soy-fed hamsters lost the ability to have babies. They also suffered slower growth, and a high mortality rate among the pups.

Skeptoid, which is a good show, always gets it wrong when it comes to genetically-modified crops (here is just the first example). Brian Dunning is a clever man, but he is one among many GMO apologists who attack straw men by misrepresenting the arguments of those whom they arrogantly call “environmentalists” (it’s the way they say it which makes it insulting). Gates too used this word as an insult last year. Speaking from experience, the two key issues that are rarely addressed are:

  1. Scientific tests which consistently show a causal correlation between GMO and negative health implications
  2. The use of patents, racketeering, baseless legal threats, and monopolisation through pollination to create a form of monopoly abuse that also leads to imperialism and farmers being totally helpless (like computer users in the hands of proprietary software, but where food/life is involved)

Of course there are other aspects to it like the political corruption we have covered before. The short story is that companies like Monsanto engage in all sorts of criminal tactics, which more recently had the company fall under major federal investigations. So the problems are real; those who deny the problems are probably not malicious, they just need to read more and be willing to accept more information (if in doubt, skip to the bottom and watch the video).

“The short story is that companies like Monsanto engage in all sorts of criminal tactics, which more recently had the company fall under major federal investigations.”We cover issues that relate to Monsanto for two main reasons: (1) Monsanto is a prime example of the problems we see in the patent system and (2) Bill Gates seems to be using Monsanto to make himself richer or at least put more power in his hands. To the African and Indian populations, Monsanto should be bad news. It’s all business to them, but they mask it using slogans and euphemisms like “feeding the world” or “ending hunger”. Science and history suggest that given more food, these populations will only reproduce further, thus never ending hunger and only becoming more fragile due to high dependence on ‘enhanced’ farming (which uses up nature’s resources more quickly until they are depleted). With this somewhat obligatory background out of the way, we can hopefully approach the news without our criticism being lost or misunderstood. For those who are willing to take action, there is a new campaign titled “Stop the sneak attack on GMO food labeling!”

Some days ago it came to our attention that Gates may be promoting more GMO in India. We warned about this last year when he publicly did this and the following new article [1, 2], which was published in two Indian publications, says:

Gates praises Indian rice that can withstand flooding


“At a time of limited resources and large global challenges, this fund will leverage support from around the world to achieve lasting progress against hunger and bolster agricultural productivity and growth,” said US treasury secretary Timothy Geithner.

That’s India again. The latter part gives a clue about how Gates uses politicians to further his agenda right now. Related to the above, one of our readers (Toby) passed on the warning from GMWatch, to which I said “it’s worse than that. Clinton and Gates are lobbying for patents of big pharma which Gates invests billion of dollars in” (see the reference for more details).

The short story is this: Gates is publicly appealing for donations from governments (going for taxpayers’ pockets) — donations to be passed to pay for patents of big GMO/pharma which overprices vital food/drugs (while killing off or buying out organic/generics producers).

Gates’ latest step receives publishable bashing from at least one informed writer who chose the headline “US Senate, Bill Gates Give the Planet a Middle Finger for Earth Day” (yes, how ironic).

Today the Senate Foreign Relations committee held a hearing on the Global Food Security Act (S.384), which, as I have documented on this blog before, Monsanto HAS been involved in lobbying on. The bill first came to my attention about a year ago, when the same committee held a very similar hearing about the same bill. In the year since then, I’ve become increasingly knowledgeable and outraged about the issues surrounding global food security. In the meantime, the Obama Administration took the lead on the issue of global food security from the Senate, and USAID is doing quite a bit already (in partnership with the World Bank and private organizations and companies) to really f*ck things up worldwide.

The same article also appears in the Huffington Post (many comments there) and it says:

A broad coalition including Bill Gates, Tim Geithner, the US State Department, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the World Bank, and others have a plan to help the world’s hungry by working in opposition to the recommendations of scientists worldwide, including the findings of a report commissioned by the World Bank and the UN. Ironically, they chose Earth Day to deliver this flaming bag of poop on Africa’s doorstep.

The article was published in response to Gates going into bed with Geithner. Here is the press release and the accompanying fluff from usda.gov. They are helping Monsanto expand to more nations with its patents and experimentation [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]. It’s very irresponsible as the “Green Revolution” becomes the “Gates Revolution”, which is in turn a revolution to Monsanto shareholders and Gates’ ego/PR.

Gates gave just a small amount to this initiative ($30 million), but his worshippers at philanthropy.com are kissing the ground he stands on. The Guardian puts the £20 million price tag on the scale of this giveaway.

Gates made the announcement about his contribution at a joint press conference at the Treasury with Tim Geithner, the US treasury secretary, James Flaherty, the Canadian finance minister, Elena Salgado, the Spanish finance minister, Yoon Jeung-Hyun, the South Korean finance minister, and Robert Zoellick, the World Bank president.

These are very small amounts compared to the total. It is intended to get governments (i.e. taxpayers) to put money in companies that Gates loves as he’s an investor in them. Gates did exactly the same thing last month but that applied to big pharmaceutical companies that Gates is a shareholder of. He successfully convinced governments to funnel money into those companies, which means that taxpayers will pay them for patents that are a barrier to helping third-world nations. How utterly selfish.

“Millions Sought for Global Fund to Aid Farms,” heralds the New York Times. Melinda’s ‘own’ publication (where she serves as a board member [1, 2] and occasional story planter) covered this too. Greenfudge.org goes with the headline “G8+Gates? Microsoft founder joins national governments in funding poor farmers”

G8, eh?

Does that make Gates’ foundation more like a nation?

The World Bank is also involved (again with Gates) and it’s actually a pretty self-serving organisation that often acts as a parasite against the interests of developing nations.

The Canadian government, which Gates gave billions of dollars to, is already hopping on board (money from taxpayers to Monsanto’s and then Gates’ pocket) and Korea does the same thing. Watch how the United States, Canada, and South Korea are mentioned in the following new article about agriculture in Ghana (probably GMO).

The United States, Canada, Spain, South Korea and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have agreed to make small holder farmers, especially women, a major thrust of a new multilateral agriculture and food security programme.

More new grants from Gates to Ghana ought to show the increased level of influence which receives no scrutiny or contest (we will cover this in more detail tomorrow when we cite a new book that agrees with this perspective). Watch all the PR (including some from the MSBBC) which shows the failure of today’s press. Journalists are too afraid of getting sued or fired, so they do not investigate these issues; instead they just report what a legion of PR agents tells them. It works well for Monsanto, which has a history of intimidating journalists and getting them fired when they really investigate (so the issues never get reported).

Quote of the Day: Conficker Still a “Loaded Gun, Waiting to be Fired.”

Posted in Microsoft, Quote, Security, Windows at 4:58 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Conficker is still a major problem, a long time after it first appeared (affecting only Microsoft Windows)

IDG in Australia says:

It’s been about a year since Conficker/Downadup hit in 2009, and although the threat didn’t turn out to be as grave as it had the potential to be, the 6.5 million PCs that remain infected today represent what Symantec Corp. calls a “loaded gun, waiting to be fired.”

It has been almost 2 years and Microsoft’s blunder with Conficker still has these damaging proportions that cost everyone a lot of money.

Old posts about Conficker (starting with 2008, oldest at at bottom)

Microsoft Targets Politicians

Posted in America, Boycott Novell, Europe at 4:50 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Ballmer and chums
José Manuel Baroso, Steve Ballmer, and Nicolas
Sarkozy (CEBIT 2008); Credit: Geoffrey La Rocca

Summary: Microsoft has new tools only for people who are in politics

MICROSOFT ALREADY enjoys many connections with governments around the world. For instance, see the following pages:

Microsoft takes this type of relationships even further with new software that specifically targets politicians. Microsoft calls this TownHall and it is being promoted in IDG’s latest Microsoft-boosting section, as well as Elizabeth Montalbano, a Microsoft booster from IDG, who is now writing for InformationWeek.

As part of a strategy to take advantage of the open government initiatives, Microsoft Monday released a new cloud-based crowdsourcing platform for public officials and candidates running for office.

Microsoft Jack wrote about this too and so did other Windows Web sites.

Microsoft rarely addresses the needs of the public (Microsoft tells the public what it supposedly wants), but here it is pampering politicians, who used to scrutinise Microsoft for its many violations of the law.

The Inquirer is one among several publications which reported that Microsoft was somehow getting past the flights suspension caused by the volcano. To quote:

It seems lots of European employees were visiting Redmond to receive their instructions from the Supreme Vole, Steve Ballmer. While the Euro Voles were recovering in Microsoft’s post-Ballmer recovery room, they got the news that they were stuck in Redmond for the foreseeable future.

But Steve apparently didn’t like the fact that there were all these spare foreign Voles hanging about. They were making the place look untidy, so he ordered his minions to do something.

Microsoft happens to have many lobbyists stationed in Europe these days. They must be receiving special treatment while everyone else (the ‘little people’) stays stranded.

Eye on Security: All Web Browsers Are Insecure… on Windows

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Microsoft, Security, Windows at 4:18 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Leaning Tower of Pisa
A strong fortress won’t last on a puddle of mud

Summary: News from the past few days can suggest that Microsoft Windows — not the particular Web browser — in the main source of threat

Malware masquerades as Google Chrome extension

A spam campaign is pushing malware disguised as a Google Chrome extension.


Rather than delivering the promised extension, the malicious page sends a program that modifies Windows’ Hosts file to redirect Google and Yahoo searches to a fake site that downloads other malware.

Malware hides from search engines

Criminals are increasingly attempting to conceal malware embedded in hacked websites from search engines such as Yahoo! and Google. Their aim is to prevent browsers which use technology such as Google’s Safe Browsing API from sounding the alarm when a user visits a hacked website. Google’s Safe Browsing API allows client applications to query Google’s phishing and malware blacklist. Firefox and Google Chrome both make use of the API, which is based on Google searches of websites for suspicious code.

Trojan poses as Google Chrome extension

Bank Trojan Takes Aim at Firefox Users [Mozilla Firefox on top of Windows is not secure]

The company’s Flashlight and Rapport services detect the latest version of Zeus, however, and the company recently developed a hardened version of Mozilla for UK bank HSBC specifically to counter the threat of advanced banking Trojans such as Zeus.

PC Owners Being Used as ‘Malware Mules’

Hackers are using unsuspecting web [Windows] users as ‘malware mules’ to infect other PC users with viruses, says Symantec.

Modest Proposal to Palm: Set WebOS Free, Encourage Homebrew

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, Google, Kernel at 4:08 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Palm Pre with WebOS and Palm OS

Summary: Android is too restricted and closed and therein lies Palm’s potential to make a comeback, by essentially learning from OpenMoko

IN A market where it is so hard to find Free (as in “freedom”) phones, Palm has a real opportunity to make an impact. And no, not even Android is free or open, despite all that marketing. The thing which Palm and Google have in common is that they both use Linux in their operating system (Google’s bastardisation of Linux withstanding).

The black sheep in the world where Linux phones are becoming the standard are probably Blackberry, Symbian (which is now claiming to have “opened up”), and Apple’s mobile OS which hardly even supports multitasking. Microsoft’s is a dying OS which does not even support “cut/copy and paste” or has any applications, as we already explained in the morning.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Apple's primitive OS is causing trouble to networks, so it is already banned in some US colleges. [via]

The tablet, lauded by many as the next wave in education technology, has already been rejected by two top universities, George Washington University and Princeton University, because of network stability issues. Cornell University also says it is seeing connectivity problems with the device and is concerned about bandwidth overload.

The hypePad was also banned in Israel for a while (the US models anyway, until very recently) because of compatibility issues associated with networks. If this sounds familiar, it should. Administrators experienced the same problem with Windows Vista on some networks; since the code is secret, it is not simple to resolve, either.

But here comes the shocker from Apple, a company that thrives in deception. Apple is actually calling Adobe Flash “closed and proprietary” as a reason for banning it [1, 2, 3]:

On Wednesday, Apple PR sent a – gasp! – statement to CNET regarding the ongoing Adobe kerfuffle, and the irony is that it called Flash “closed and proprietary”.

What a bunch of hypocrites. Apple’s proprietary software, with DRM and remote kill switches and who knows what else, is just about as “closed and proprietary” as anything can get. Did Apple actually approve the above message before it was spouted out?

“Palm should market itself as being the opposite of Apple.”Here is where Palm comes into this. Palm has already filed a complaint against Apple after Apple played dirty games and also intimidated Palm (Apple later attacked Android too and it gets even worse than that [1, 2]). Palm should market itself as being the opposite of Apple.

Palm has promoted its proprietary software for ages, but it never censored applications like Apple does, for example. It also arrived at the scene at a time when all mobile/PDA platforms (or most of them) were completely indifferent when it comes to Free software, so maybe there is an excuse here (Foleo was already being developed with Linux).

Diego argues about the differences between Apple and Linux at the lower level; both are considered UNIX compliant, but only one of them is free in the GPL sense. Therein lies Palm’s advantage and there are tens of millions of desktop GNU/Linux users who are potential Palm customers, assuming that Palm plays gracefully with them (it currently does not). Back in the days, Palm supported Windows and Mac OS, but it did not support GNU/Linux. That’s quite a spit in the face. Palm relied on hackers to develop their own Free/libre applications for GNU/Linux (or maybe use Wine). A couple of days ago someone wrote this post on how to use a Palm Pilot with GNU/Linux. It is not very simple and support is not 100% complete (e.g. for third-party applications).

Palm Pilots can work with Ubuntu. Learn which program you will need and how to use this to install software to your device.

If you are using Ubuntu, there are times where you can’t use older hardware since it was never ever made for Linux. One older popular piece of hardware is the Palm Pilot. While you might not expect something like this to work, it will with your Ubuntu installation.

Personally, I’ve used gpilot and kpilot over the years, but now I use jpilot, which is great. I have been a Palm user for almost a decade (there were hardly hackable devices at the time I started). Palm OS accepts any software one wishes to install on the devices, unlike Apple for example. This is the right thing to allow and Palm should consider doing it again. It already has to an extent. Here is a new post about running Linux applications in WebOS. Why did it take so long for Palm to allow this? Hubris? Desire for total control (usually excused by ‘security’)? Last year’s Pre surveillance scandal was a sign of unnecessary arrogance.

WebOS is a pretty versatile Mobile Operating System and the folks at WebOS Internals have managed to run some Linux applications including OpenOffice on a Palm Pre!! It appears you can run X11 on the Palm Pre and this opens up many possibilities for WebOS users.

This is a nice start, but it does not go far enough. WebOS is still proprietary and this gives the wrong impression. Palm may have embraced Linux, but it never ever embraced Free software. Palm ought to do something similar to OpenMoko but with a lot more capital (Palm has about half a billion dollars in the bank, based on its most recent claims).

Time for change, right?

Palm’s first stage was adopting Linux, but it was far too closed above that layer (the kernel). Palm ought to market it like Sharp did with the Zaurus. It should be free to control, it should be hackable, it should be marketed as the “phone of liberty” (a place for developers not to be oppressed by a software/hardware vendor). As it stands at the moment, Palm in the marketplace is a 5th wheel and there is no compelling reason to head over to Palm’s shelf.

According to this, Palm intends to remove the hardware barrier, which would be a good start. But it does not go far enough.

Rubinstein said that Palm would look at letting other mobile manufacturers use its smartphone operating system in a bid to make a bit of cash.

According to The Register, Palm denies that it’s up for sale.

Jon Rubinstein, the CEO concerned, has told the Financial Times that he “believe[s] Palm can survive as an independent company” and that the company has “a plan that gets us to profitability”.

The Register is pessimistic just because Palm’s current plans offer no radical change. If Palm really wants to stun the market, then it should ‘pull an OpenMoko’ and openly offer its platform which is far more mature than OpenMoko. Palm claims that it is opening up to more platforms, which is good. The decision to let any application run on the platform is also good, but what good is it when WebOS remains proprietary? A big splash requires a bold big push and Palm can make it happen by announcing to the world that WebOS is the world’s Free/libre platform of choice for phones (OpenMoko was the first and Android is nowhere near that status).

Posted by an 8-year Palm customer, who contributed to the company on a voluntary basis

Links 26/4/2010: Scientific Linux Reviewed; More Linux Tablets

Posted in News Roundup at 2:24 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Desktop

    • What SHOULD Linux be?

      Focus on Linux, not a Windows or OS X clone.

      I can certainly understand, in some instances, why the Linux community would want to borrow an idea from either Windows or OS X. Some of their ideas are quite good. Just like both Windows and OS X would borrow from Linux.

    • Windows Malware: The final straw that broke the penguin’s back

      So this weekend, I popped in a brand-new 500GB hard drive, and installed the Ubuntu Lucid Lynx 10.04 release candidate, and never looked back. I copied in all of my personal data from my Windows 7 drive and installed a fresh copy of Windows 7 in VirtualBox. My love affair with Windows as my primary operating system is over.

  • Ballnux

  • Audiocasts

  • Graphics Stack

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

    • K Desktop Environment (KDE SC)

      • Notifications in Kubuntu 10.04

        Kubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala has a nice notification system called Ayatana. The notification system of KDE is ugly in my opinion, so I like Ayatana very. It is very beautiful, and it is more beautiful if the desktop effects are enabled. Ayatana is a Canonical-community joint effort to discuss and promote improvements to the Ubuntu user interface. See this link for more information.

    • GNOME Desktop

      • More cool gnome-shell tips and tricks

        If you have been reading Ghacks within the last month, you know that I have become a big fan of what will eventually become GNOME 3. That replacement is currently under the title GNOME Shell and it is already quite a stunning piece of work. I have covered GNOME Shell in a few pieces here (Check out all the GNOME Shell content on Ghacks) and, after further usage, I thought it was a good time for a few more tips and tricks.

      • A Dozen GNOME Themes

        Now there are plenty of sites that have posted their top 10, top 16, top 25, even their top 50 themes for GNOME, but some how their lists always include the same designs over and over. The goal here is to look at some newer and/or forgotten themes, some interesting combinations fom preexisting themes, and some inclusions of original work to provide a reason to look at these themes.

  • Distributions

    • Mandrake/Mandriva Family

    • Red Hat Family

      • Gazing at Scientific Linux

        While the distribution isn’t eye-catching, it has a lot of good things going for it. In fact, I occasionally found myself thinking, I wish Fedora did this in this way. For example, I always wondered why Fedora didn’t adopt the Yumex package manager front-end. I like that Scientific comes with some multimedia support and Flash rather than making their users hunt down third-party repositories. Scientific’s approach to security, offering a custom live CD password and disabling network services out of the box, is commendable. Further, I like that my touchpad works the way I expect it to without editing a configuration file. The Scientific team offers a stable desktop with long-term support and does a good job of it. The only drawback, so far as I can see, is that some of their key components are getting out of date. Usually this isn’t a problem, except perhaps, when using software like OpenOffice.org and Firefox. Those projects which put out major releases once a year or more will appear dated. In conclusion, Scientific is a good desktop for people who prefer stability over riding the cutting edge.

      • Fedora

        • A peek into Fedora 13beta

          In previous releases, I’d used GIMP to edit all my digital photos (remove red-eye, etc.) Now, I’m switching to Shotwell. It’s that good.

        • Keeping up with everyone.

          Whenever these events happen, Ambassadors and Fedora community members can help promote our incredible community by posting about the events. Your blog, plus the Fedora Planet aggregator, are a fantastic way to spread the word about the event. Your interactions with attendees and free and open source software communities are one of the best ways to build interest and energy around free software.

    • Ubuntu

      • 10 Applications You Must Install On Ubuntu Lucid Lynx [Linux]

        Ubuntu no longer installs GIMP out of the box. They say the GIMP is aimed at intermediate to advanced users, and not everyone’s cup of tea. While that makes sense, I think it is too useful a software to not have on your computer.

      • Thoughts on Ubuntu Netbook Edition 10.04

        Since about Christmas my primary machine for day-to-day computing has been an Acer Aspire One D250. Netbooks are not really designed to be full laptop replacements, but I decided to go netbook-only for a few reasons. So of course the first thing I wanted to do is replace the stock Windows 7 (I can’t believe they put that on netbooks) with Ubuntu Netbook Edition. Being a (mostly former) Ubuntu developer I decided to go with Lucid and see how the netbook was shaping up for the upcoming LTS release.

        I really like the UNE interface with netbook-launcher providing an easy to use launcher and maximus/window-picker-applet providing a great way to make the most of the limited screen real estate (1024×600). However, not everybody prefers this UI so one of the interesting new things in the 10.04 release is that you can choose between a normal GNOME UI and the UNE-customized UI at login.

      • Ubuntu 10.04 Review

        As many of you already know, Ubuntu 10.04 is slated to be released April 29th. So I figured I’d grab the release candidate, throw it onto my workstation, and give it a try. I know that there may be a few bugs and such, but usually by this point, anything major has been fixed.

      • Ubuntu Lucid Lynx 10.04 on Sony Vaio UX

        A female geek from Liliputer installed the latest Ubuntu 10.04 on her amazing Vaio UX180 UMPC. However, it is even more exiting to see most of the components working straight out-of-the-box.

      • Lucid Lynx paves way for Ubuntu shake-up

        Canonical has published the release candidate for Ubuntu 10.04 — codenamed Lucid Lynx — which adds consumer-friendly features, better integration with cloud infrastructure, and a new look.

        The release of the finalised version on Thursday came two weeks after the beta version was made available for public testing. The operating system update is now more or less complete, Canonical said.

      • Pleasant Surprises with Ubuntu Lucid Lynx Release Candidate

        No sooner did I get that one finished, than my friend who has an original Asus Eee PC 701 came by and said she didn’t need it any more. I was so pleased with my success on the 2133 that I decided to give the latest UNR a shot on that as well. It couldn’t have been easier – boot the Live USB thumb driver, run through the load procedure, and it’s working like a charm. I know there are Eee-oriented distributions available, but for simplicity and compatibility with Ubuntu/UNR on other systems, this is just great. Once again, everything works – wireless networking, audio, camera, all no problems.

      • Ubuntu 10.04: A Final Look At What to Expect

        Last but certainly not least, Lucid introduces a brand new theme to Ubuntu, which has retired the storied earthtones of its past. In addition to the new color scheme, many icons have been updated, and the selection of wallpapers available in Appearances utility has been expanded (you can still, of course, set any image as wallpaper).

      • Ubuntu: Does Freedom Matter?

        While I’d like to say I switched to Linux because I cared deeply about software freedom, the truth is that I had no idea what open-source meant–or what exactly source code was, for that matter–when I booted my first live CD. Instead, I installed Linux (first Mandriva, then Fedora, now Ubuntu) because I was a college student with a very negative income, and I was tired of paying for software. So I admit it: I gave Linux a try only because I’m a cheapskate.

      • Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter Issue 190
  • Devices/Embedded

    • Nook Software Update: The Good, The Subpar

      Browser, With a Catch: The Nook now has a basic Web browser, in beta, which should at least allow people to read some daily news and blogs. But as one commenter on Engadget noted, it’s Wi-Fi only. Also, I’d like to see either the Kindle or the Nook treat Web browsing with respect and offer something robust, as we’ve seen in Spring Design’s Alex.

    • Android

      • Nexus One May Launch In UK Next Week

        More than 15 weeks after the Nexus One launched in the US, it looks like our friends in the UK may finally get an opportunity to buy the Android smartphone. Late yesterday, a “coming soon” page set up by Vodafone briefly changed to describe the release window as April.

      • Android-based nav phone’s U.S.-bound

        T-Mobile and Garmin-Asus announced a navigation-oriented smartphone that will run Android and include multi-touch capabilities. The “Garminfone” includes a 600MHz Qualcomm processor, 4GB of flash storage, a three megapixel camera, and GPS capabilities that work with or without cellular connectivity, according to the companies.

      • Payment terminal accepts NFC mobile-phone payments

        Vivotech announced a Linux-based mobile payments device that incorporates Near Field Communication (NFC) wireless technology. The ARM9-based, PCI 2.1-certified “Vivopay 8100″ offers a traditional pinpad and mag-stripe reader, but also supports contactless payments via NFC-enabled mobile phones, with features such as coupon redemption and discount vouchers.

      • Five reasons iPhone vs Android isn’t Mac vs Windows

        Last week I presented at Stanford Graduate School of Business in a session on Mobile Computing called, “Creating Mobile Experiences: It’s the Platform, Stupid.”

      • Monitoring sensors in the background
      • Android 2.2 (Froyo) features

        It sounds like a beta version of Android 2.2 (Froyo) is out in the wild for testing — and it has some interesting features that I’m sure Android users will find interesting. The new version of the operating system will be available on the Nexus One, and quite possibly Verizon phones in late May — my guess will be on the same day as Google I/O (May 19).

    • Sub-notebooks

    • Tablets

      • Can this tri-boot US$264 slate tablet kill the iPad?

        But wait, what’s this? A 7-inch slate tablet which boots all three operating systems with a ridiculously low US$264 price tag? That is precisely what the SmartQ V7 offers. Granted its plastic body is a far cry from being seductive, this machine comes with USB connectivity and, get this, 1080p video support and HDMI output. It’s even lighter than Apple’s device. A poor man’s iPad, or a virgin device for the tech nerd to mod and defile? At this price, it can be both.

      • ASUS

        • Asus announces Eee Pad tablet

          The firm that popularised netbooks will be peddling the Eee Pad, a tablet that will run Google’s Android operating system. The device reportedly will have cutting edge features missing on Apple’s Ipad, such as USB ports, an integrated webcam and even support for Adobe’s Flash.

        • ASUS is working on an Eee Pad

          According to DigiTimes, the Eee Pad will be available in the shops from late June and will be priced at around $500. ASUS says it will produce 300,000 of these devices in 2010. In contrast to Apple’s iPad, the Eee Pad will include USB ports, a camera and Adobe’s Flash Player. The latter is currently in a restricted beta phase.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Databases

    • O’Reilly MySQL Conference Awards 2010

      The O’Reilly MySQL Conference & Expo 2010 is over. I hope all of you had a good time. I have plenty of blog posts and thoughts lined up about this, but first, I’d like to point out something that has become a tradition, that was continued in 2010: the O’Reilly MySQL Conference Community Award Winners.

  • BSD


    • Why Making Money from Free Software Matters

      Free software began as a political movement: its central aim was – and remains – the propagation of freedom. Later, it became a development methodology too, largely at the hands of Linus, whose geographical isolation in Finland forced him to develop ways of using the Internet to coordinate a new kind of massive, but decentralised, global collaboration. Later still, free software also became a way of making serious money – something that Stallman has repeatedly said he is quite happy with, contrary to much FUD claiming otherwise.

  • Licensing

    • Either it’s free or it’s not

      Even small clauses, like those famous no-military-use restrictions, grate me like sand in my mouth. Extending your restriction downstream through other users and developers is an attempt to control the people who might otherwise find it useful.

  • Openness

    • Mr. Fixit Goes Open Source With DIY Repair Site

      Previously, iFixit was a repair site that posted step-by-step disassembly instructions for gadgets posted by iFixit staff. The company makes money by selling parts (like replacement iPhone screens) that intrepid fixers can use in their repair projects. Later, iFixit implemented a gallery tool for anybody to post an illustrative teardown manual for their gadgets (which Gadget Lab helped introduce with a Sony teardown contest).

      Now, the site has repurposed itself into a full-blown wiki for repair manuals, where contributors can collaborate on repair instructions in real time. For each product, iFixit contributors can create individual manuals with instructions for specific repairs (e.g., a manual for fixing the Wi-Fi module in a MacBook, or a manual for replacing a battery in a Samsung cellphone). All the manuals on iFixit will be free and noncopyrighted.

  • Programming

    • Andy Wingo: recent developments in Guile

      I watched a talk by Andy Wingo recently: recent developments in Guile. GNU Guile is a Scheme implementation, and a library providing an extension language for applications. Guile is actively developed, and promises some exciting stuff in upcoming releases, which is why I took these notes and publish them here–read on.

      Andy starts by noting that Guile is different things to different people:

      * A GNU language, with bindings for many components of the GNU system and under LGPL 3.

    • State and the Syntax of Encapsulation

      More and more I realize that good software design minimizes the amount of things you have to care about at any one time. Well-designed programs take advantage of abstraction possibilities of languages and libraries to model the problem and its solution in the most effective way. Well-designed languages minimize the syntactic concerns necessary to produce those abstractions.

    • Cross Compiling Options


  • Lib Dems soar in UK polls after debate

    Many U.S. voters were outraged in the 2000 presidential election when Bush Jr. won despite losing the popular vote. But Britain’s electoral map is even weirder. After a spectacular TV debate performance by the leader of the Liberal Democrats–traditional also-rans in UK general elections–the three main parties are nearly tied in polling.

  • Super-rich become wealthier again, Sunday Times says

    The UK’s super-rich have seen a resurgence in their fortunes, the Sunday Times Rich List suggests.

  • Remembering Fascism: Learning From the Past

    The article opened with the words: “Austria falls, Czechoslovakia falls, and now Barcelona falls” – and Spain with it, a few months later. The words have always stayed in my mind, along with the dread, the sense of the dark clouds of fascism gathering over Germany and then Europe and perhaps beyond, a growing force of unimaginable horror.

  • Science

    • Quantum broadband becomes reality

      The first high-speed network link that is so secure it is theoretically unbreakable has been created, thanks to quantum physics.

      A team at Toshiba Research Europe in Cambridge, UK, has sent encrypted data at over 1 megabit per second along 50 kilometres of optical fibre. That’s fast enough to stream video.

    • Hawking thinks space aliens might be trouble

      British astrophysicist Stephen Hawking lectured in the United States on April 21, 2010, and commented on the existence of intelligent extraterrestrial life. He thinks such aliens are fairly rare but probably out there. But, they might be a threat to Earthlings.

    • Astroboffin says ‘black holes murder galaxies’

      About 25,000 light years from earth, nestled in the center of our galaxy, lurks a supermassive black hole. Luckily for us, our galaxy’s matter-sucking hub is far less active than those at the core of many other galaxies.

  • Security/Aggression

  • Environment

    • The Business of Adaptation

      Just as a for instance, check out these two pieces on designing waterfront areas in response to foreseeable sea-level rise: “Environmental Restoration in the Age of Climate Change” and “How to Prepare Ports and Waterfronts for Climate Change.” While uncertainties about sea level and climate impacts abound, we do know enough to start practicing precaution. The same is true for everything from forestry to energy to transportation: we have the capacity to start thinking through, and preparing to adapt to, the realities of a climate-changed world.

    • Save whales, not whaling

      A proposal to keep the dying whaling industries on life support has just been unveiled by the International Whaling Commission (IWC) — instead of a concrete plan to safeguard whales.

  • Finance

    • Bush Still Gets More Blame for Economy Than Obama

      Of the three party groups, only Republicans say Obama bears more blame than Bush

    • IG’s Report: SEC Staff Accessed Porn on Government PCs

      A Securities and Exchange Commission Inspector General’s report released Thursday reveals several “senior staffers” have used government computers to access and download pornography in the past three years. Compiled at the request of Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, the report summarizes investigations into the activity of 33 different employees.

    • SEC staffers watched porn as economy crashed
    • In revealed e-mails, Goldman chief says we ‘made more than we lost’ by betting against market

      Goldman Sachs’ top executives were aware that the company made money by playing against the US housing market, according to internal e-mails released Saturday.

      The bank’s chief executive Lloyd Blankfein wrote in November 2007 that the firm “didn’t dodge the mortgage mess,” but “made more than we lost” by betting against the housing market, the Associated Press reported.

    • Housing Crisis Getting Uglier in 2010

      The housing report card is ugly. In the past two years, the housing market has lost an estimated $4.9 trillion dollars, as 59 million homes have declined in value.

      Nearly 1 in 4 homeowners — 10.7 million households nationwide — are underwater on their mortgages. They owe more than their home is now worth.

    • Major Banks Still Grappling With Foreclosures

      A year ago this week, the financial crisis sent the stock market off a cliff. At the heart of troubles was a plague of bad home loans. Millions of people couldn’t pay their mortgages, and banks were losing billions of dollars.

      The foreclosure mess hasn’t improved. The numbers keep getting worse, with foreclosures at record highs and rising, despite a major effort by the Obama administration to prevent them.

  • Censorship/Privacy/Civil Rights

    • DOJ abandons warrantless attempt to read Yahoo e-mail

      The U.S. Justice Department has abruptly abandoned what had become a high-profile court fight to read Yahoo users’ e-mail messages without obtaining a search warrant first.

      In a two-page brief filed Friday, the Obama administration withdrew its request for warrantless access to the complete contents of the Yahoo Mail accounts under investigation. CNET was the first to report on the Denver case in an article on Tuesday.

    • Peeking Into Users’ Web History

      Personalization is a key part of Internet search, providing more relevant results and gaining loyal customers in the process. But new research highlights the privacy risks that this kind of personalization can bring. A team of European researchers, working with a researcher from the University of California, Irvine, found that they were able to hijack Google’s personalized search suggestions to reconstruct users’ Web search histories.

    • LoL, BTW … My Boss Is Monitoring Every Text That I Send, ;)

      The Supreme Court on Monday leaps into the high-tech world of text messaging in a challenge with potentially huge implications for the privacy rights of senders and receivers and for workplace communications.

    • Supreme Court overturns anti-animal cruelty law in First Amendment case

      The Supreme Court on Tuesday forcefully struck down a federal law aimed at banning depictions of dog fighting and other violence against animals, saying it violated constitutional guarantees of free speech and created a “criminal prohibition of alarming breadth.”

      The 8 to 1 ruling, written by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., was a ringing endorsement of the First Amendment’s protection of even distasteful expression. Roberts called “startling and dangerous” the government’s argument that the value of certain categories of speech should be weighed against their societal costs when protecting free speech.

    • Legislative Branch Responds After Supremes’ Animal Ruling

      Clinton, observing First Amendment concerns that it swept too broadly, directed the Justice Department to limit prosecution to videos depicting “wanton cruelty to animals designed to appeal to a prurient interest in sex.” But in 2004 federal prosecutors went after dog-fighting movies instead.

    • First Amendment left intact

      Refusing to remove another form of expression from the protection of the First Amendment, the Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled 8-1 that the government lacks the power to outlaw expressions of animal cruelty, when that is done in videotapes and other commercial media. The Court noted that it had previously withdrawn “a few historic categories” of speech from the First Amendment’s shield, but concluded that “depictions of animal cruelty should not be added to the list.” The decision nullified a 1999 federal law passed by Congress in an attempt to curb animal cruelty by forbidding its depiction. That law, the Court said, sweeps too broadly.

    • Rogue admin waits for verdict

      San Francisco’s rogue sysadmin Terry Childs, who refused to reveal passwords when he was sacked, could learn his fate later today.

    • Google Tool Reveals Government Hunger For Data

      In a move toward greater transparency, Google on Tuesday introduced a new tool that shows the number of requests for data and for data removal that Google has received from governments around the world.

      Google’s Government Requests tool does not provide detail about the nature of the requests and it is updated only every six months. Nonetheless, it represents an unprecedented degree of disclosure.

    • Google Street View logs WiFi networks, Mac addresses

      Google’s roving Street View spycam may blur your face, but it’s got your number. The Street View service is under fire in Germany for scanning private WLAN networks, and recording users’ unique Mac (Media Access Control) addresses, as the car trundles along.

    • Hitler parody videos latest copyright fight
    • Russia bans texts by Scientology founder

      Russian prosecutors said Wednesday that dozens of texts and recordings by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard had been ruled “extremist” and would be banned in Russia.

    • Why I, Like, Really Dislike Facebook’s ‘Like’ Button

      In case you missed it: Facebook has just introduced a button that lets you tell the world the things you like, even when you’re not on Facebook. Visit CNN or Mashable or Technologizer, click the “Like” button, and that information is posted to your Facebook page. (Though CNN’s button is still labeled “Recommend” — maybe they didn’t get the memo.) Meanwhile, if your Facebook friends also like what you like, you can find that out too, again without ever visiting Facebook.

    • Facebook Accounts Hacked, Sold
    • Google highlights fair use defense to YouTube takedowns

      Click the button, and your video goes straight back up (and the people who sent the original takedown have to go to court to get it taken offline again).

    • How many governments are blocking Google?

      Search giant admits that 25 governments are now censoring Google content

  • Internet/Net Neutrality/DRM

    • Google’s Insane Number of Servers Visualized
    • Major labels go bragh? Irish judge allows 3 strikes

      The Irish High Court ruled on April 16 that cutting off the Internet access of suspected P2P pirates was fine, that no data privacy rules would be breached by doing so, and that such schemes are needed because “the mischievous side of the human personality, containing a repulsive aspect as well as an attractive and humorous one, has also come to the fore over the Internet.”

    • Can You Survive a Benevolent Dictatorship?

      But DRM isn’t just a system for restricting copies. DRM enjoys an extraordinary legal privilege previously unseen in copyright law: the simple act of breaking DRM is illegal, even if you’re not violating anyone’s copyright. In other words, if you jailbreak your iPad for the purpose of running a perfectly legal app from someone other than Apple, you’re still breaking the law. Even if you’ve never pirated a single app, nor violated a single copyright, if you’re found guilty of removing an “effective means of access control,” Apple can sue you into a smoking hole. That means that no one can truly compete with Apple to offer better iStores, or apps, with better terms that are more publisher- and reader-friendly. Needless to say, it is also against the law to distribute tools for the purpose of breaking DRM.

    • Ubisoft DRM – Busted! – Has an Amiga group saved gamers?

      For those that still play games on the Windows platform, there were many who voiced criticism about the DRM which Ubisoft employed. It required a persistent net connection in order for the game to perform checks at certain intervals to ensure that the copy was genuine.

      The DRM in question is from the game Assassins Creed 2 which in a recent interview, Ubisoft were asked what would happen if the servers facilitating the copy protection were taken down. The answer was that a patch could be released to enable the game to play without net access.

  • Copyrights

    • When Copyright Goes Bad – documentary

      Ben Cato Clough and Luke Upchurch’s “When Copyright Goes Bad” (from Consumers International) is a great, 15-minute mini-documentary on what copyright can do, what it is doing, and what it needs to stop doing. Appearances by Fred Von Lohmann – Electronic Frontier Foundation; Michael Geist – University of Ottawa Law School; Jim Killock – Open Rights Group; and Hank Shocklee – Co-founder of Public Enemy.

    • Shaping IP Laws by Not-So-Gentle Persuasion: The Special 301 Report

      At the end of this month the United States Trade Representative’s Office will release its annual Special 301 report, a review of global intellectual property protection and enforcement standards conducted by the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR). Since 1989, the USTR has used the Special 301 Report to intimidate other countries into adopting more stringent copyright and patent laws by singling out particular countries for their “bad” intellectual property policies, naming them on a tiered set of “watch lists,” resulting in heightened political pressure and in some cases, the potential for trade sanctions, to encourage changes to their laws.

    • Foreign Submissions To The Canadian Copyright Consultation – Richard Owens Is Right, We Should Weed Them Out

      Then he claimed that many of the submissions were not even made by Canadians. This is a serious issue. Extremely serious. I decided to go back to the database, and look at some of the submissions, to see if they were filed by persons or organizations with close foreign connections.

      The first one I checked for was SOCAN (Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada), and yes, they filed a submission. Unfortunately SOCAN has members who are not Canadian, one example being Sony Music.

      Then of course there’s the Canadian Publishers Council, which also filed a submission, and which has a lot of foreign members.

Clip of the Day

NASA Connect – PW – Icy Research (1/10/1998)

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